Players: 2 to 7
Game Length: 10 minutes
Best enjoyed: With 3-6 lumberjacks who have steady hands!
Toc Toc Woodman is a dexterity game reminiscent of Jenga where players will take turns swinging a plastic axe at an equally plastic tree. Well, ‘swinging’ is an overstatement – rather, they’ll be gently tapping it, hoping to strip it of bark without bringing the entire thing crashing down.
On each turn, players may hit the tree just twice with the plastic axe. Their goal is to knock off the dark brown bark pieces without making any of the up with any of the light brown core pieces – a task that will require high precision! The bark pieces will slip out from the tree if they are knocked far enough from the centre, but if players strike too hard, or in the wrong direction, they’ll risk knocking the whole tree over.
You’ll start your turn in Toc Toc Woodman by eyeing the tree, analysing it from all directions, looking for an easily-dislodged piece of bark. You’ll bring the axe to bear, hesitate, then go for a swing – ending up just short of actually applying any force, but hard enough to produce the distinctive ‘Toc’ sound. You’ll groan in disappointment, then go in again – will your second hit bear fruit (or rather, bark)?
As you proceed in the game, the tree will start leaning precariously in different directions. Which way can you tap it to release another piece of bark? How hard can you hit before you risk toppling it, potentially losing you the game? A piece of bark is worth one point, but a core piece makes you lose five points – with four pieces of bark per core piece, this means that there are more points to be lost in a game of Toc Toc Woodman than there are to be gained! Indeed, in your first few games, ending with a positive score will be a major accomplishment.
The game ends when all bark has been stripped from the tree. However, it’s very unlikely that this will occur without a major collapse at some stage. It will take a few games before you get a feel for how hard you can hit the tree without causing a collapse, and how far from the centre the core pieces need to be moved before they give up some of their precious bark. The pieces are well manufactured, and slide easily over one another; a crucial factor for a game such as this.
Toc Toc Woodman is a light and enjoyable dexterity game that’ll have you and your friends laughing. Make sure you aren’t playing at a rickety table or in a busy location, though, as late in the game, the slightest nudge can cause the tree to fall. If you’re looking for a quick dexterity game that anyone can sit down and play, Toc Toc Woodman comes highly recommended.